In her first semester at the university, Stony Brook’s new registered dietitian, Stephanie May, has put in effort to improve students’ diets with her suggestions to Campus Dining Services and with her answers to students’ questions, comments and concerns.
May completed the Dietetic Internship Program at Stony Brook University Hospital in the Department of Family Medicine after earning her degree in dietetics from SUNY Oneonta.
She passed her registration exam in July and is now available to all students for counseling in nutrition and well-being. She also works with campus chefs and managers to develop healthy options on the menu.
May grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley surrounded by a family that loved cooking and fresh produce, which inspired her passion in food and healthy lifestyles.
“My grandfather is one of my best mentors,” May, 23, said. She first started cooking with him when she was very young.
Fueled by her love and passion for food, May now works with Campus Dining Services in developing healthy menu options and catering to students who have special dietary needs. Recently, May collaborated with Chef Romel Velasquez and Student Activities Center retail manager Suanne Agugliaro to develop the breakfast quinoa bowl at the SAC.
“I am excited that every Monday and Wednesday Campus Dining is serving a protein-packed breakfast that has a great flavor and is vegan,” May said. “My goal on campus is to ensure that there is always new and exciting, healthy, flavorful dishes being made.”
Though May has always made healthy meal choices, she was ultimately motivated by playing soccer in middle school. May began to understand the connection between proper nutrition and athletic performance.
“To this day, I choose balanced nutrition to fuel my active lifestyle,” she said.
Aside from helping the campus community as a whole with her healthy menu options, May also counsels students one-on-one at her office.
“I really love and appreciate the enthusiasm from all of the students who schedule appointments and are excited and motivated to develop a healthier lifestyle,” May said.
She answers a lot of questions about general health and wellness, but the most common topic is avoiding the “freshman 15.”
The “freshman 15” is a common myth that each college freshman will gain 15 pounds during his or her first year. This weight gain can be caused by stress or poor eating habits. Though not always the case, the fear of the “freshman 15” can cause unhealthy habits and may lead to eating disorders, according to the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that on college campuses, 91 percent of women have attempted to control their weight through dieting and 22 percent dieted “often” or “always.”
“Many individuals who have negative relationships with food either underreport or overreport their use of diets,” May said about the statistics. “Overall, I would say that many people try to change their eating habits to change the way their body looks—whether it be weight gain, muscle building, decreasing body fat, or muscle toning.”
For students who are concerned about their body image, May reaches out with her availability.
“I currently work with several students who see food differently and need a place to discuss balance and healthier habits,” she said.
Students can make appointments on the Campus Dining Services website for free nutrition counseling.